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The City File 

Some of us were looking forward to the LAST one! Argonne National Laboratory notes that December 20 was the 40th anniversary of the first illumination of light bulbs by nuclear-generated electricity. "In honor of the anniversary, one of those bulbs was re-lit with electricity from an advanced reactor designed by Argonne for the 21st century."

"Most malls have changing tables in the women's rest room. Few do in the men's," reports Moments (December) in its survival guide to 20 Chicago-area malls. "Generally we found it is better to go into the anchors to change diapers because the department stores keep their bathrooms cleaner."

"Citizens for a Better Environment has charged that the [proposed] incinerator [in south suburban Robbins] has accumulated $190 million in subsidies awarded by the state--nearly 20 times the money Illinois has put into recycling," writes Liane Clorfene Casten in Chicago Enterprise (January). The incinerator "will receive the subsidies through tax-free bonds, property tax breaks and the law that requires Edison to payÉ [higher than wholesale prices] for the electricity the plant produces. The state also will give long-term interest-free loans worth over $25 million to the developers."

Proof that bankers don't have to discriminate. That's the short version of the Woodstock Institute report The Unknown Lenders: The Role of Mortgage Banks in the Chicago Metropolitan Area. Unlike local commercial banks and S & Ls, mortgage banks in 1989 "made as many mortgage loans in predominantly black neighborhoods as in comparable white neighborhoods." They also issued "the same number of loans in high-income areas as in comparable low-income ones."

Gee, could you give out the addresses of these firms? According to Boulevard Bancorp's November survey of 70 CEOs of small and medium-size Chicago-area businesses, 19 percent described the local selection of office workers and managers as "small," and 37 percent said the supply of unskilled labor was "small."

Year's best rejection of art photographs, according to Robert Lightfoot III, in Loupe (Winter): "(In an extremely superior tone) 'Your pictures were rejected immediately!' 'How come?' (With crushing, inarguable finality) 'You showed people smiling!'"

"In Illinois the poorest 20 percent of families--those with annual incomes of $14,700 or less--pay about 16.5 percent of their incomes in state and local taxes, while the top 1 percent--with average incomes of more than $900,000 a year--pay only about 6 percent," according to Fletcher Farrar Jr. in Illinois Times (December 19-25). "Because Illinois has a flat rate of 3 percent, it misses out on the revenue that could be collected from the wealthy."

We Love Equality--at a safe distance. The Women in Military Service for America Memorial Foundation has announced, without irony, that the governments of Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar now support the construction of a U.S. memorial to the women who have served in the U.S. military throughout history.

Lest we forget. "People usually get the government that they deserve, but Harold Washington was an exception. A city which treats political corruption as a spectator sport got an honest Mayor who demanded (and surprisingly often got) honesty from his subordinates. A Black community which was used to fights over who was going to be the token got unity, leadership, real participation. A White community which lived ethnocentric politics until it believed that there was no other kind got inclusiveness and access beyond anything they'd dreamed of under 'their own.' Other ethnic groups went from watching their leaders beg for a place at the trough to being invited to a place at the table.

"He has been gone almost as long as he was mayor, Richie has had a puppet council longer than he had 25 who would listen to him. Yet, discussion of City government still circulates around what Harold got us that we lost--a chance at Com-Ed, what he got us that we kept-- actual debate on the City budget, and what he got us which is still in jeopardy--an Asian voice in City Hall" (Network 48 News, December).

Net gain in square footage of office space leased in downtown Chicago during 1990: 1,500,000. During 1991: 591,437. Emptiest section of the Loop: North Michigan Avenue, with a 19.4 percent vacancy rate, according to a survey by the CB Commercial Real Estate Group.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Carl Kock.

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